BLOG: Strategic decision making and your competitive advantage

Did you know that over a third of KPMGs new graduate auditors in Australia don't have accounting degrees


BLOG: Strategic decision making and your competitive advantage

Daria Shevtsova

Digital disruption has been a game changer for the accounting industry, and when KPMG's highly conventional audit division breaks with a 100-year-old tradition to hire graduates without a business or accounting degree you know it's getting serious.

Technology, automation, and data analytics

In the ongoing quest for innovation, firms are valuing soft skills and diversity. Mathematical and IT skills are also required to meet the shift to data analytics as part of the audit process.

We're seeing this trend in small accounting firms as well, with accountants 'thinking outside the box' and becoming cloud integrators in the business advisory space. With unprecedented opportunities for business efficiency gains, the firms that embrace technology have an initial competitive advantage. And those that don't face the risk of being left for dust. 

"Word-of-mouth still works for me..."

Establishing a business reputation take time, and for many of the accountants we talk with that word-of-mouth referral network is still the most effective way to generate leads. But no doubt the next validation step for these referrals will be a quick Google search from a mobile device. Having an online presence that showcases your brand to full advantage, and that presents your company as technologically 'up with the play' is no longer optional. 

Yet some companies still operate from a traditional, fixed mindset, where what has always worked in the past will apparently continue to work in this new era. 

"Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?" 

This is the question at the heart of Great By Choice, where some companies thrive despite being hit by fast-moving forces. What distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well from those who underperform or worse? This book explores 9 years of research, benchmarking similar companies, to understand how we can create our own future despite not being able to predict it. 

This is an interesting question to ponder in this time of revolutionary change for the accounting industry. We partner with many firms taking an innovative approach to their own practice, which is providing a significant return on investment for them. I recently wrote about Sky Accountants, who have experienced 20% growth in the last 12 months and picked up several awards for innovation. 

The new era propels the 'business story' beyond the immediate referral network. The transition to essentially becoming a technology company requires strategic decision making with an eye to the future.

The strategic decision making process

Decisions vary along two dimensions: control and performance, according to this interesting article in HBR. Are we choosing among options presented to us, or are we able to shape those options? It appears that the most difficult type of decisions involve strategic decisions with a subsequent impact on company performance. It may also explain why many accounting firms, while acknowledging that digital disruption of the industry in underway, aren't taking any action in response.

The ways of categorising decisions include:

  • Making routine choices and judgements - picking and choosing from options available to us, also exposing us to systematic bias. 
  • Influencing outcomes - we use our energy and talents to make things happen.
  • Placing competitive bets - where success depends on how well we do relative to others, and includes the interesting field of game theory. 

These all combine to create decisions under the term 'strategic management', where mindset is essential.

"When we can influence outcomes, it is useful to summon high levels of self-belief. And when we need to outperform rivals, such elevated fields are not just useful but indeed essential. Only those who are able to muster a degree of commitment and determination that is by some definitions excessive will be in a position to win." 

Feel the fear and do it anyway

If you decide you're ready to get underway with becoming tech-savvy, we can help with your website and digital marketing strategy. Contact us now for more information.

Michelle Polglase PracticePlus

As General Manager for PracticePlus, Michelle is inspired by innovation and on a mission to provide the best website solutions for accountants and bookkeepers globally.